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The Dhammapada 

Translated by Thomas Byrom 

The Dhammapada, an anthology of 423 verses, has long been recognised as one of the 
masterpieces of early Buddhist literature. From ancient times to the present, the 
Dhammapada has been regarded as the most succinct expression of the Buddha's 
teaching found in the Theravada Pali Canon of scriptures known as the Khuddaka 
Nikaya ("Minor Collection") of the Sutta Pitaka. 

Buddhist tradition has it that shortly after the passing away of the Buddha his 
disciples met in council at Rajagaha for the purpose of recalling to mind the truths 
they had received from their beloved Teacher during the forty-five years of his 
ministry. Their hope was to implant the principles of his message so firmly in 
memory that they would become a lasting impetus to moral and spiritual conduct, for 
themselves, their disciples, and for all future disciples who would seek to follow in the 
footsteps of the Awakened One. 

With the Teacher no longer among them, the monks found themselves with the 
responsibility of handing on the teaching as faithfully as possible. Having no written 
texts to rely on, they did as their ancestors had before them and prepared their 
discourses for recitation, that is, basic themes were repeated with variations in order 
to impress the ideas on their hearers. At that time, according to the Sinhalese, the 
Dhammapada was orally assembled from the sayings of Gautama given on some 
three hundred different occasions. 

Subsequently, several renditions of the Dhammapada in the Sanskrit and Chinese 
languages came into circulation. Likewise, a number of stanzas are to be found 
almost verbatim in other texts of the canonical literature, testifying to the esteem in 
which its content was anciently held. Since first collated, the Dhammapada has 
become one of the best loved of Buddhist scriptures, recited daily by millions of 
devotees who chant its verses in Pali or in their native dialect. 

It was inevitable that differences in interpretation of teaching as well as of 
disciplinary practices would arise, with the result that about a century after the First 
Council was held a second gathering was called to affirm the purity of the doctrine. It 
was at this Second Council that the Arhats divided into two main streams, namely, 
the Mahasanghika or "Great Assembly" and the Theravada or "Doctrine of Elders." 
These gradually developed into the Mahayana or Northern School of Buddhism 
espoused chiefly in India, Tibet, China, and later Japan, and the Hinayana or 
Southern School whose stronghold is Sri Lanka, Burma, and the countries of South- 
east Asia. 

(From the Dhammapada Foreword of Dr. Harischandra Kaviratna, with minor 
adaptations, 1980, Theosophical University Press) 

The Dhammapada, www.thebigview. com 

Page 1 

Table Of Contents 

The Dhammapada- Translated by Thomas Byrom 

The Dhammapada l 

Table Of Contents 2 

1. Choices 3 

2. Wakefulness 3 

3. Mind 4 

4. Flowers 4 

s. The Fool 5 

6. The Wise Man 6 

7. The Master 6 

8. The Thousands 7 

9. Mischief 7 

10. Violence 8 

11. Old Age 8 

12. Yourself. 9 

13. The World Q 

14. The Man Who Is Awake 10 

1 5 - Jo y 10 

16. Pleasure 11 

17. Anger 11 

18. Impurity 12 

19. The Just 13 

20. The Way 13 

21. Out Of The Forest 14 

22. The Dark 14 

23. The Elephant 15 

24. Desire 16 

25. The Seeker 17 

26. The True Master 18 

The Dhammapada, Page 2 

l. Choices 

We are what we think. 

All that we are arises with our 


With our thoughts we make the world. 
Speak or act with an impure mind 
And trouble will follow you 
As the wheel follows the ox that draws 
the cart. 

We are what we think. 

All that we are arises with our 


With our thoughts we make the world. 

Speak or act with a pure mind 

And happiness will follow you 

As your shadow, unshakable. 

"Look how he abused me and hurt me, 

How he threw me down and robbed 


Live with such thoughts and you live in 

"Look how he abused me and hurt me, 
How he threw me down and robbed 

Abandon such thoughts, and live in 

In this world 

Hate never yet dispelled hate. 

Only love dispels hate. 

This is the law, 

Ancient and inexhaustible. 

You too shall pass away. 

Knowing this, how can you quarrel? 

How easily the wind overturns a frail 


Seek happiness in the senses, 
Indulge in food and sleep, 
And you too will be uprooted. 
The wind cannot overturn a mountain. 
Temptation cannot touch the man 
Who is awake, strong and humble, 
Who masters himself and minds the 

If a man's thoughts are muddy, 
If he is reckless and full of deceit, 
How can he wear the yellow robe? 
Whoever is master of his own nature, 
Bright, clear and true, 
He may indeed wear the yellow robe. 
Mistaking the false for the true, 
And the true for the false, 
You overlook the heart 
And fill yourself with desire. 

See the false as false, 

The true as true. 

Look into your heart. 

Follow your nature. 

An unreflecting mind is a poor roof. 

Passion, like the rain, floods the house. 

But if the roof is strong, there is 


Whoever follows impure thoughts 
Suffers in this world and the next. 
In both worlds he suffers 
And how greatly 

When he sees the wrong he has done. 
But whoever follows the dharma 
Is joyful here and joyful there. 
In both worlds he rejoices 
And how greatly 

When he sees the good he has done. 

For great is the harvest in this world, 

And greater still in the next. 

However many holy words you read, 

However many you speak, 

What good will they do you 

If you do not act upon them? 

Are you a shepherd 

Who counts another man's sheep, 

Never sharing the way? 

Read as few words as you like, 

And speak fewer. 

But act upon the dharma. 

Give up the old ways - 

Passion, enmity, folly. 

Know the truth and find peace. 

Share the way. 

2. Wakefulness 

Wakefulness is the way to life. 

The fool sleeps 

As if he were already dead, 

But the master is awake 

And he lives forever. 

He watches. 

He is clear. 

How happy he is! 

For he sees that wakefulness is life. 
How happy he is, 

Following the path of the awakened. 

With great perseverance 

He meditates, seeking 

Freedom and happiness. 

So awake, reflect, watch. 

Work with care and attention. 

Live in the way 

The Dhammapada, www.thebigview. com 

Page 3 

And the light will grow in you. 
By watching and working 
The master makes for himself an 

Which the flood cannot overwhelm. 

The fool is careless. 

But the master guards his watching. 

It is his most precious treasure. 

He never gives in to desire. 

He meditates. 

And in the strength of his resolve 
He discovers true happiness. 
He overcomes desire - 
And from the tower of his wisdom 
He looks down with dispassion 
Upon the sorrowing crowd. 
From the mountain top 
He looks down at those 
Who live close to the ground. 
Mindful among the mindless, 
Awake while others dream, 
Swift as the race horse 
He outstrips the field. 
By watching 

Indra became king of the gods. 

How wonderful it is to watch. 

How foolish to sleep. 

The beggar who guards his mind 

And fears the waywardness of his 


Burns through every bond 
With the fire of his vigilance. 
The beggar who guards his mind 
And fears his own confusion 
Cannot fall. 

He has found his way to peace. 
3. Mind 

As the fletcher whittles 

And makes straight his arrows, 

So the master directs 

His straying thoughts. 

Like a fish out of water, 

Stranded on the shore, 

Thoughts thrash and quiver, 

For how can they shake off desire? 

They tremble, they are unsteady, 

They wander at their own will. 

It is good to control them, 

And to master them brings happiness. 

But how subtle they are, 

How elusive! 

The task is to quieten them, 

And by ruling them to find happiness. 

With single-mindedness 

The master quells his thoughts. 

He ends their wandering. 

Seated in the cave of the heart, 

He finds freedom. 

How can a troubled mind 

Understand the way? 

If a man is disturbed 

He will never be filled with knowledge. 

An untroubled mind, 

No longer seeking to consider 

What is right and what is wrong, 

A mind beyond judgements, 

Watches and understands. 

Know that the body is a fragile jar, 

And make a castle of your mind. 

In every trial 

Let understanding fight for you 

To defend what you have won. 

For soon the body is discarded, 

Then what does it feel? 

A useless log of wood, it lies on the 


Then what does it know? 

Your worst enemy cannot harm you 

As much as your own thoughts, 


But once mastered, 

No one can help you as much, 

Not even your father or your mother. 

4. Flowers 

Who shall conquer this world 
And the world of death with all its 

Who shall discover 
The shining way of dharma? 
You shall, even as the man 
Who seeks flowers 
Finds the most beautiful, 
The rarest. 

Understand that the body 
Is merely the foam of a wave, 
The shadow of a shadow. 
Snap the flower arrows of desire 
And then, unseen, 
Escape the king of death. 

And travel on. 

Death overtakes the man 

Who gathers flowers 

The Dhammapada, www.thebigview. com 

Page 4 

When with distracted mind and thirsty 

He searches vainly for happiness 

In the pleasures of the world. 

Death fetches him away 

As a flood carries off a sleeping village. 

Death overcomes him 

When with distracted mind and thirsty 


He gathers flowers. 

He will never have his fill 

Of the pleasures of the world. 

The bee gathers nectar from the flower 

Without marring its beauty or 


So let the master settle, and wander. 

Look to your own faults, 

What you have done or left undone. 

Overlook the faults of others. 

Like a lovely flower, 

Bright but scentless, 

Are the fine but empty words 

Of the man who does not mean what 

he says. 

Like a lovely flower, 

Bright and fragrant, 

Are the fine and truthful words 

Of the man who means what he says. 

Like garlands woven from a heap of 


Fashion from your life as many good 

The perfume of sandalwood, 
Rosebay or jasmine 
Cannot travel against the wind. 
But the fragrance of virtue 
Travels even against the wind, 
As far as the ends of the world. 
How much finer 
Is the fragrance of virtue 
Than of sandalwood, rosebay, 
Of the blue lotus or jasmine! 
The fragrance of sandalwood and 

Does not travel far. 

But the fragrance of virtue 

Rises to the heavens. 

Desire never crosses the path 

Of virtuous and wakeful men. 

Their brightness sets them free. 

How sweetly the lotus grows 

In the litter of the wayside. 

Its pure fragrance delights the heart. 

Follow the awakened 

And from among the blind 
The light of your wisdom 
Will shine out, purely. 

5. The Fool 

How long the night to the watchman, 
How long the road to the weary 

How long the wandering of many lives 

To the fool who misses the way. 

If the traveller cannot find 

Master or friend to go with him, 

Let him travel alone 

Rather than with a fool for company. 

"My children, my wealth!" 

So the fool troubles himself. 

But how has he children or wealth? 

He is not even his own master. 

The fool who knows he is a fool 

Is that much wiser. 

The fool who thinks he is wise 

Is a fool indeed. 

Does the spoon taste the soup? 

A fool may live all his life 

In the company of a master 

And still miss the way. 

The tongue tastes the soup. 

If you are awake in the presence of a 


One moment will show you the way. 
The fool is his own enemy. 
The mischief is his undoing. 
How bitterly he suffers! 
Why do what you will regret? 
Why bring tears upon yourself? 
Do only what you do not regret, 
And fill yourself with joy. 
For a while the fool's mischief 
Tastes sweet, sweet as honey. 
Bit in the end it turns bitter. 
And how bitterly he suffers! 
For months the fool may fast, 
Eating from the tip of a grass blade. 
Still he is not worth a penny 
Beside the master whose food is the 

Fresh milk takes time to sour. 

So a fool's mischief 

Takes time to catch up with him. 

Like the embers of a fire 

It smoulders within him. 

Whatever a fool learns, 

It only makes him duller. 

The Dhammapada, www.thebigview. com 

Page 5 

Knowledge cleaves his head. 

For then he wants recognition. 

A place before other people, 

A place over other people. 

"Let them know my work, 

Let everyone look to me for direction." 

Such are his desires, 

Such is his swelling pride. 

One way leads to wealth and fame, 

The other to the end of the way. 

Look not for recognition 

But follow the awakened 

And set yourself free. 

6. The Wise Man 

The wise man tells you 

Where you have fallen 

And where you yet may fall - 

Invaluable secrets! 

Follow him, follow the way. 

Let him chasten and teach you 

and keep you from mischief. 

The world may hate him. 

But good men love him. 

Do not look for bad company 

Or live with men who do not care. 

Find friends who love the truth. 

Drink deeply. 

Live in serenity and joy. 

The wise man delights in the truth 

And follows the law of the awakened. 

The farmer channels water to his land. 

The fletcher whittles his arrows. 

And the carpenter turns his wood. 

So the wise man directs his mind. 

The wind cannot shake a mountain. 

Neither praise nor blame moves the 

wise man. 

He is clarity. 

Hearing the truth, 

He is like a lake, 

Pure and tranquil and deep. 

Want nothing. 

Where there is desire, 

Say nothing. 

Happiness or sorrow - 

Whatever befalls you, 

Walk on 

Untouched, unattached. 

Do not ask for family or power or 


Either for yourself or for another. 
Can a wise man wish to rise unjustly? 

Few cross over the river. 
Most are stranded on this side. 
On the riverbank they run up and 

But the wise man, following the way, 
Crosses over, beyond the reach of 

He leaves the dark way 

For the way of light. 

He leaves his home, seeking 

Happiness on the hard road. 

Free from desire, 

Free from possessions, 

Free from the dark places of the heart. 

Free from attachment and appetite, 

Following the seven lights of 


And rejoicing greatly in his freedom, 
In this world the wise man 
Becomes himself a light, 
Pure, shining, free. 

7. The Master 

At the end of the way 

The master finds freedom 

From desire and sorrow - 

Freedom without bounds. 

Those who awaken 

Never rest in one place. 

Like swans, they rise 

And leave the lake. 

On the air they rise 

And fly an invisible course, 

Gathering nothing, storing nothing. 

Their food is knowledge. 

They live upon emptiness. 

They have seen how to break free. 

Who can follow them? 

Only the master, 

Such is his purity. 

Like a bird, 

He rises on the limitless air 
And flies an invisible course. 
He wishes for nothing. 
His food is knowledge. 
He lives upon emptiness. 
He has broken free. 
He is the charioteer. 
He has tamed his horses, 
Pride and the senses. 
Even the gods admire him. 
Yielding like the earth, 

The Dhammapada, www.thebigview. com 

Page 6 

Joyous and clear like the lake, 

Still as the stone at the door, 

He is free from life and death. 

His thoughts are still. 

His words are still. 

His work is stillness. 

He sees his freedom and is free. 

The master surrenders his beliefs. 

He sees beyond the end and the 


He cuts all ties. 

He gives up all desires. 

He resists all temptations. 

And he rises. 

And wherever he lives, 

In the city or the country, 

In the valley or in the hills, 

There is great joy. 

Even in the empty forest 

He finds joy 

Because he wants nothing. 

8. The Thousands 

Better than a thousand hollow words 
Is one word that brings peace. 
Better than a thousand hollow verses 
Is one verse that brings peace. 
Better than a hundred hollow lines 
Is one line of the dharma, bringing 

It is better to conquer yourself 
Than to win a thousand battles. 
Then the victory is yours. 
It cannot be taken from you, 
Not by angels or by demons, 
Heaven or hell. 

Better than a hundred years of 

Better than a thousand offerings, 

Better than giving up a thousand 

worldly ways 

In order to win merit, 

Better even than tending in the forest 

A sacred flame for a hundred years - 

Is one moment's reverence 

For the man who has conquered 


To revere such a man, 

A master old in virtue and holiness, 

Is to have victory over life itself, 

And beauty, strength and happiness. 

Better than a hundred years of 


Is one day spent in contemplation. 
Better than a hundred years of 

Is one day spent in reflection. 

Better than a hundred years of idleness 

Is one day spent in determination. 

Better to live one day 


How all things arise and pass away. 

Better to live one hour 


The one life beyond the way. 
Better to live one moment 
In the moment 
Of the way beyond the way. 

9. Mischief 

Be quick to do good. 
If you are slow, 

The mind, delighting in mischief, 
Will catch you. 
Turn away from mischief. 
Again and again, turn away. 
Before sorrow befalls you. 
Set your heart on doing good. 
Do it over and over again, 
And you will be filled with joy. 
A fool is happy 

Until his mischief turns against him. 

And a good man may suffer 

Until his goodness flowers. 

Do not make light of your failings, 

Saying, "What are they to me?" 

A jug fills drop by drop. 

So the fool becomes brimful of folly. 

Do not belittle your virtues, 

Saying, "They are nothing." 

A jug fills drop by drop. 

So the wise man becomes brimful of 


As the rich merchant with few servants 

Shuns a dangerous road 

And the man who loves life shuns 


Beware the dangers of folly and 

For an unwounded hand may handle 

The innocent come to no harm. 
But as dust thrown against the wind, 
Mischief is blown back in the face 
Of the fool who wrongs the pure and 

The Dhammapada, www.thebigview. com 

Page 7 

Some are reborn in hell, 

Some in this world, 

The good in heaven. 

But the pure are not reborn. 


Not in the sky, 

Nor in the midst of the sea, 

Nor deep in the mountains, 

Can you hide from your own mischief. 

Not in the sky, 

Not in the midst of the ocean, 
Nor deep in the mountains, 

Can you hide from your own death. 

10. Violence 

All beings tremble before violence. 

All fear death. 

All love life. 

See yourself in other. 

Then whom can you hurt? 

What harm can you do? 

He who seeks happiness 

By hurting those who seek happiness 

Will never find happiness. 

For your brother is like you. 

He wants to be happy. 

Never harm him 

And when you leave this life 

You too will find happiness. 

Never speak harsh words 

For they will rebound upon you. 

Angry words hurt 

And the hurt rebounds. 

Like a broken gong 

Be still, and silent. 

Know the stillness of freedom 

Where there is no more striving. 

Like herdsmen driving their cows into 

the fields, 

Old age and death will drive you before 

But the fool in his mischief forgets 

And he lights the fire 

Wherein one day he must burn. 

He who harms the harmless 

Or hurts the innocent, 

Ten times shall he fall - 

Into torment or infirmity, 

Injury or disease or madness, 

Persecution or fearful accusation, 

Loss of family, loss of fortune. 

Fire from heaven shall strike his house 

And when his body has been struck 

He shall rise in hell. 
He who goes naked, 
With matted hair, mud bespattered, 
Who fasts and sleeps on the ground 
And smears his body with ashes 
And sits in endless meditation - 
So long as he is not free from doubts, 
He will not find freedom. 
But he who lives purely and self- 

In quietness and virtue, 

Who is without harm or hurt or blame, 

Even if he wears fine clothes, 

So long as he also has faith, 

He is a true seeker. 

A noble horse rarely 

Feels the touch of the whip. 

Who is there in this world as 


Then like a noble horse 

Smart under the whip. 

Burn and be swift. 

Believe, meditate, see. 

Be harmless, be blameless. 

Awake to the dharma. 

And from all sorrows free yourself. 

The farmer channels water to his land. 

The fletcher whittles his arrows. 

The carpenter turns his wood. 

And the wise man masters himself. 

11. Old Age 

The world is on fire! 
And you are laughing? 
You are deep in the dark. 
Will you not ask for a light? 
For behold your body - 
A painted puppet, a toy, 
Jointed and sick and full of false 

A shadow that shifts and fades. 

How frail it is! 

Frail and pestilent, 

It sickens, festers and dies. 

Like every living thing 

In the end it sickens and dies. 

Behold these whitened bones, 

The hollow shells and husks of a dying 


And you are laughing? 
You are a house of bones, 

The Dhammapada, www.thebigview. com 

Page 8 

Flesh and blood for plaster. 

Pride lives in you, 

And hypocrisy, decay, and death. 

The glorious chariots of kings shatter. 

So also the body turns to dust. 

But the spirit of purity is changeless 

And so the pure instruct the pure. 

The ignorant man is an ox. 

He grows in size, not in wisdom. 

"Vainly I sought the builder of my 


Through countless lives. 

I could not find him... 

How hard it is to tread life after life! 

"But now I see you, O builder! 

And never again shall you build my 


I have snapped the rafters, 

Split the ridge-pole 

And beaten out desire. 

And now my mind is free." 

There are no fish in the lake. 

The long-legged cranes stand in the 


Sad is the man who in his youth 
Loved loosely and squandered his 
fortune - 

Sad as a broken bow, 

And sadly is he sighing 

After all that has arisen and has passed 


12. Yourself 

Love yourself and watch - 

Today, tomorrow, always. 

First establish yourself in the way, 

Then teach, 

And so defeat sorrow. 

To straighten the crooked 

You must first do a harder thing - 

Straighten yourself. 

You are your only master. 

Who else? 

Subdue yourself, 

And discover your master. 

Wilfully you have fed 

Your own mischief. 

Soon it will crush you 

As the diamond crushes stone. 

By your own folly 

You will be brought as low 

As you worst enemy wishes. 

So the creeper chokes the tree. 

How hard it is to serve yourself, 

How easy to lose yourself 

In mischief and folly. 

The kashta reed dies when it bears 


So the fool, 

Scorning the teachings of the 

Spurning those who follow the 

Perishes when his folly flowers. 

Mischief is yours. 

Sorrow is yours. 

But virtue is also yours, 

And purity. 

You are the source 

Of all purity and impurity. 

No one purifies another. 

Never neglect your work 

For another's, 

However great his need. 

Your work is to discover your work 

And then with all your heart 

To give yourself to it. 

13. The World 

Do not live in the world, 

In distraction and false dreams. 

Outside the dharma. 

Arise and watch. 

Follow the way joyfully 

Through this world and beyond. 

Follow the way of virtue. 

Follow the way joyfully 

Through this world and on beyond! 

For consider the world - 

A bubble, a mirage. 

See the world as it is, 

And death shall overlook you. 

Come, consider the world, 

A painted chariot for kings, 

A trap for fools. 

But he who sees goes free. 

As the moon slips from behind a cloud 

And shines, 

So the master comes out from behind 
his ignorance 
And shines. 

The world is in darkness. 
How few have eyes to see! 
How few the birds 

Who escape the net and fly to heaven! 
Swans rise and fly toward the sun. 

The Dhammapada, www.thebigview. com 

Page 9 

What magic! 

So do the pure conquer the armies of 

And rise and fly. 

If you scoff at heaven 

And violate the dharma, 

If your words are lies, 

Where will your mischief end? 

The fool laughs at generosity. 

The miser cannot enter heaven. 

But the master finds joy in giving 

And happiness is his reward. 

And more - 

For greater than all the joys 

Of heaven and earth, 

Greater still and than dominion 

Over all the worlds, 

Is the joy of reaching the stream. 

14. The Man Who Is 

He is awake. 

The victory is his. 

He has conquered the world. 

How can he lose the way 

Who is beyond the way? 

His eye is open 

His foot is free. 

Who can follow after him? 

The world cannot reclaim him 

Or lead him astray, 

Nor can the poisoned net of desire 

hold him. 

He is awake! 

The gods watch over him. 
He is awake 

And finds joy in the stillness of 

And in the sweetness of surrender. 

Hard it is to be born, 

Hard it is to live, 

Harder still to hear of the way, 

And hard to rise, follow, and awake. 

Yet the reaching is simple. 

Do what is right. 

Be pure. 

At the end of the way is freedom. 
Till then, patience. 
If you wound or grieve another, 
You have not learned detachment. 
Offend in neither word nor deed. 
Eat with moderation. 

Live in your heart. 

Seek the highest consciousness. 

Master yourself according to the 


This is the simple teaching of the 

The rain could turn to gold 
And still your thirst would not be 

Desire is unquenchable 

Or it ends in tears, even in heaven. 

He who wishes to awake 

Consumes his desires 


In his fear a man may shelter 

In mountains or in forests, 

In groves of sacred trees or in shrines. 

But how can he hide there from his 


He who shelters in the way 

And travels with those who follow it 

Comes to see the four great truths. 

Concerning sorrow, 

The beginning of sorrow, 

The eightfold way 

And the end of sorrow. 

Then at last he is safe. 

He has shaken off sorrow. 

He is free. 

The awakened are few and hard to 

Happy is the house where a man 

Blessed is his birth. 

Blessed is the teaching of the way. 

Blessed is the understanding among 

those who follow it, 

And blessed is their determination. 

And blessed are those who revere 

The man who awakes and follows the 


They are free from fear. 
They are free. 

They have crossed over the river of 

15. Joy 

Live in joy, 
In love, 

Even among those who hate. 
Live in joy, 
In health, 

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Page 10 

Even among the afflicted. 
Live in joy, 
In peace, 

Even among the troubled. 
Live in joy, 
Without possessions. 
Like the shining ones. 
The winner sows hatred 
Because the loser suffers. 
Let go of winning and losing 
And find joy. 

There is no fire like passion, 

No crime like hatred, 

No sorrow like separation, 

No sickness like hunger, 

And no joy like the joy of freedom. 

Health, contentment and trust 

Are your greatest possessions, 

And freedom your greatest joy. 

Look within. 

Be still. 

Free from fear and attachment, 
Know the sweet joy of the way. 
How joyful to look upon the awakened 
And to keep company with the wise. 
How long the road to the man 
Who travels the road with the fool. 
But whoever follows those who follow 
the way 

Discovers his family, and is filled with 

Follow then the shining ones, 
The wise, the awakened, the loving, 
For they know how to work and 
Follow them 

As the moon follows the path of the 

16. Pleasure 

Do not let pleasure distract you 
From meditation, from the way. 
Free yourself from pleasure and pain. 
For in craving pleasure or in nursing 

There is only sorrow. 
Like nothing lest you lose it, 
Lest it bring you grief and fear. 
Go beyond likes and dislikes. 

From passion and desire, 
Sensuousness and lust, 
Arise grief and fear. 

Free yourself from attachment. 

He is pure, and sees. 

He speaks the truth, and lives it. 

He does his own work. 

So he is admired and loved. 

With a determined mind and 

undesiring heart 

He longs for freedom. 

He is called uddhamsoto - 

"He who goes upstream." 

When a traveller at last comes home 

From a far journey, 

With what gladness 

His family and friends receive him! 

Even so shall your good deeds 

Welcome you like friends 

And with what rejoicing 

When you pass from one life to the 


17. Anger 

Let go of anger. 
Let go of pride. 

When you are bound by nothing 

You go beyond sorrow. 

Anger is like a chariot careering wildly. 

He who curbs his anger is the true 


Others merely hold the reins. 

With gentleness overcome anger. 

With generosity overcome meanness. 

With truth overcome deceit. 

Speak the truth. 

Give whenever you can, 

Never be angry. 

These three steps will lead you 

Into the presence of the gods. 

The wise harm no one. 

They are masters of their bodies 

And they go to the boundless country. 

They go beyond sorrow. 

Those who seek perfection 

Keep watch day and night 

Till all desires vanish. 

Listen, Atula. This is not new, 

It is an old saying - 

"They blame you for being silent, 

They blame you when you talk too 


And when you talk too little." 
Whatever you do, they blame you. 
The world always finds 
A way to praise and a way to blame. 

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It always has and it always will. 

But who dares blame the man 

Whom the wise continually praise, 

Whose life is virtuous and wise, 

Who shines like a coin of pure gold? 

Even the gods praise him. 

Even Brahma praises him. 

Beware of the anger of the body. 

Master the body. 

Let it serve truth. 

Beware of the anger of the mouth. 

Master your words. 

Let them serve truth. 

Beware of the anger of the mind. 

Master your thoughts. 

Let them serve truth. 

The wise have mastered 

Body, word and mind. 

They are the true masters. 

18. Impurity 

You are as the yellow leaf. 

The messengers of death are at hand. 

You are to travel far away. 

What will you take with you? 

You are the lamp 

To lighten the way. 

Then hurry, hurry. 

When your light shines 

Without impurity of desire 

You will come into the boundless 


Your life is falling away. 

Death is at hand. 

Where will you rest on the way? 

What have you taken with you? 

You are the lamp 

To lighten the way. 

Then hurry, hurry. 

When you light shines purely 

You will not be born 

And you will not die. 

As a silversmith sifts dust from silver, 

Remove your own impurities 

Little by little. 

Or as iron is corroded by rust 

Your own mischief will consume you. 

Neglected, the sacred verses rust. 

For beauty rusts without use 

And unrepaired the house falls into 


And the watch, without vigilance, fails. 
In this world and the next 

There is impurity and impurity: 

When a woman lacks dignity, 

When a man lacks generosity. 

But the greatest impurity is ignorance. 

Free yourself from it. 

Be pure. 

Life is easy 

For the man who is without shame, 

Impudent as a crow, 

A vicious gossip, 

Vain, meddlesome, dissolute. 

But life is hard 

For the man who quietly undertakes 

The way of perfection, 

With purity, detachment and vigour. 

He sees light. 

If you kill, lie or steal, 

Commit adultery or drink, 

You dig up your own roots. 

And if you cannot master yourself, 

The harm you do turns against you 


You may give in the spirit of light 
Or as you please, 

But if you care how another man gives 

Or how he withholds, 

You trouble your quietness endlessly. 

These envying roots! 

Destroy them 

And enjoy a lasting quietness. 

There is no fire like passion. 

There are no chains like hate. 

Illusion is a net, 

Desire is a rushing river. 

How easy it is to see your brother's 


How hard it is to face your own. 

You winnow his in the wind like chaff, 

But yours you hide, 

Like a cheat covering up an unlucky 


Dwelling on your brother's faults 

Multiplies your own. 

You are far from the end of your 


The way is not in the sky. 
The way is in the heart. 
See how you love 
Whatever keeps you from your 

But the tathagathas, 
"They who have gone beyond," 
Have conquered the world. 
They are free. 

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The way is not in the sky. 
The way is in the heart. 

All things arise and pass away. 
But the awakened awake forever. 

19. The Just 

If you determine your course 

With force or speed, 

You miss the way of the dharma. 

Quietly consider 

What is right and what is wrong. 

Receiving all opinions equally, 

Without haste, wisely, 

Observe the dharma. 

Who is wise, 

The eloquent or the quiet man? 
Be quiet, 

And loving and fearless. 

For the mind talks. 

But the body knows. 

Gray hairs do not make a master. 

A man may grow old in vain. 

The true master lives in truth, 

In goodness and restraint, 

Non-violence, moderation and purity. 

Fine words or fine features 

Cannot make a master 

Out of a jealous and greedy man. 

Only when envy and selfishness 

Are rooted out of him 

May he grow in beauty. 

A man may shave his head 

But if he still lies and neglects his 


If he clings to desire and attachment, 
How can he follow the way? 

The true seeker 

Subdues all waywardness. 

He has submitted his nature to 


He is a true seeker 

Not because he begs 

But because he follows the lawful way, 

Holding back nothing, holding to 


Beyond good and evil, 

Beyond the body and beyond the 


Silence cannot make a master out of a 

But he who weighs only purity in his 

Who sees the nature of the two worlds, 

He is a master. 

He harms no living thing. 

And yet it is not good conduct 

That helps you upon the way, 

Nor ritual, nor book learning, 

Nor withdrawal into the self, 

Nor deep meditation. 

None of these confers mastery or joy. 

0 seeker! 

Rely on nothing 

Until you want nothing. 

20. The Way 

The way is eightfold. 

There are four truths. 

All virtue lies in detachment. 

The master has an open eye. 

This is the only way, 

The only way to the opening of the eye. 

Follow it. 

Outwit desire. 

Follow it to the end of sorrow. 
When I pulled out sorrow's shaft 

1 showed you the way. 

It is you who must make the effort. 
The masters only point the way. 
But if you meditate 
And follow the dharma 
You will free yourself from desire. 
"Everything arises and passes away." 
When you see this, you are above 

This is the shining way. 
"Existence is sorrow." 
Understand, and go beyond sorrow. 
This is the way of brightness. 
"Existence is illusion." 
Understand, and go beyond. 
This is the way of clarity. 
You are strong, you are young. 
It is time to arise. 
So arise! 

Lest through irresolution and idleness 
You lose the way. 
Master your words. 
Master your thoughts. 
Never allow your body to do harm. 
Follow these three roads with purity 
And you will find yourself upon the 
one way, 

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Page 13 

The way of wisdom. 

Sit in the world, sit in the dark. 

Sit in meditation, sit in light. 

Choose your seat. 

Let wisdom grow. 

Cut down the forest. 

Not the tree. 

For out of the forest comes danger. 

Cut down the forest. 

Fell desire. 

And set yourself free. 

While a man desires a woman, 

His mind is bound 

As closely as a calf to its mother. 

As you would pluck an autumn lily, 

Pluck the arrow of desire. 

For he who is awake 

Has shown you the way of peace. 

Give yourself to the journey. 

"Here shall I make my dwelling, 

In the summer and the winter, 

And in the rainy season." 

So the fool makes his plans, 

Sparing not a thought for his death. 

Death overtakes the man 

Who, giddy and distracted by the 


Cares only for his flocks and his 

Death fetches him away 

As a flood carries off a sleeping village. 

His family cannot save him, 
Not his father nor his sons. 
Know this. 

Seek wisdom, and purity. 
Quickly clear the way. 

21. Out Of The Forest 

There is pleasure 
And there is bliss. 

Forgo the first to possess the second. 

If you are happy 

At the expense of another man's 


You are forever bound. 

You do not what you should. 

You do what you should not. 

You are reckless, and desire grows. 

But the master is wakeful. 

He watches his body. 

In all his actions he discriminates, 

And he becomes pure. 

He is without blame 

Though once he may have murdered 

His mother and his father, 

Two kings, a kingdom, and all its 


Though the kings were holy 

And their subjects among the virtuous, 

Yet he is blameless. 

The followers of the awakened 


And day and night they watch 

And meditate upon their master. 

Forever wakeful, 

They mind the dharma. 

They know their brothers on the way. 

They understand the mystery of the 


They find joy in all beings. 

They delight in meditation. 

It is hard to live in the world 

And hard to live out of it. 

It is hard to be among the many. 

And for the wanderer, how long is the 


Wandering through many lives! 

Let him rest. 

Let him not suffer. 

Let him not fall into suffering. 

If he is a good man, 

A man of faith, honoured and 


Wherever he goes he is welcome. 

Like the Himalayas 

Good men shine from afar. 

But bad men move unseen 

Like arrows in the night. 




Alone with yourself, 
Never weary. 

On the edge of the forest 
Live joyfully, 
Without desire. 

22. The Dark 

One man denies the truth. 
Another denies his own actions. 
Both go into the dark. 
And in the next world suffer 
For they offend truth. 
Wear the yellow robe. 

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Page 14 

But if you are reckless 

You will fall into darkness. 

If you are reckless, 

Better to swallow molten iron 

Than eat at the table of the good folk. 

If you court another man's wife 

You court trouble. 

Your sleep is broken. 

You lose our honour. 

You fall into darkness. 

You go against the law, 

You go into the dark. 

Your pleasures end in fear 

And the king's punishment is harsh. 

But as a blade of grass held awkwardly 

May cut your hand, 

So renunciation may lead you into the 


For if in your renunciation 

You are reckless and break your word, 

If your purpose wavers, 

You will not find the light. 

Do what you have to do 

Resolutely, with all your heart. 

The traveller who hesitates 

Only raises dust on the road. 

It is better to do nothing 

Than to do what is wrong. 

For whatever you do, you do to 


Like a border town well guarded, 

Guard yourself within and without. 

Let not a single moment pass 

Lest you fall into darkness. 

Feel shame only where shame is due. 

Fear only what is fearful. 

See evil only in what is evil. 

Lest you mistake the true way 

And fall into darkness. 

See what is. 

See what is not. 

Follow the true way. 


23. The Elephant 

I shall endure harsh words 

As the elephant endures the shafts of 


For many people speak wildly. 

The tamed elephant goes to battle. 

The king rides him. 

The tamed man is the master. 

He can endure hard words in peace. 

Better than a mule 

Or the fine horses of Sindh 

Or mighty elephants of war 

Is the man who had mastered himself. 

Not on their backs 

Can he reach the untrodden country. 

But only on his own. 

The mighty elephant Dhanapalaka 

Is wild when he is in rut, 

And when bound he will not eat, 

Remembering the elephant grove. 

The fool is idle. 

He eats and he rolls in his sleep 

Like a hog in a sty. 

And he has to live life over again. 

"My own mind used to wander 

Wherever pleasure or desire or lust led 


But now I have it tamed, 
I guide it, 

As the keeper guides the wild 



Be the witness of your thoughts. 
The elephant hauls himself from the 

In the same way drag yourself out of 
your sloth. 

If the traveller can find 

A virtuous and wise companion 

Let him go with him joyfully 

And overcome the dangers of the way. 

But if you cannot find 

Friend or master to go with you, 

Travel on alone - 

Like a king who has given away his 

Like an elephant in the forest. 
Travel on alone, 

Rather than with a fool for company. 

Do not carry with you your mistakes. 

Do not carry your cares. 

Travel on alone. 

Like an elephant in the forest. 

To have friends in need is sweet 

And to share happiness. 

And to have done something good 

Before leaving this life is sweet, 

And to let go of sorrow. 

To be a mother is sweet, 

And a father. 

It is sweet to live arduously, 

And to master yourself. 

O how sweet it is to enjoy life, 

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Page 15 

Living in honesty and strength! 
And wisdom is sweet, 
And freedom. 

24. Desire 

If you sleep, 

Desire grows in you 

Like a vine in the forest. 

Like a monkey in the forest 

You jump from tree to tree, 

Never finding the fruit - 

From life to life, 

Never finding peace. 

If you are filled with desire 

Your sorrows swell 

Like the grass after the rain. 

But if you subdue desire 

Your sorrows shall fall from you 

Like drops of water from a lotus 


This is good counsel 

And it is for everyone: 

As the grass is cleared for the fresh 


Cut down desire 

Lest death after death crush you 

As a river crushes the helpless reeds. 

For if the roots hold firm, 

A felled tree grows up again. 

If desires are not uprooted, 

Sorrows grow again in you. 

Thirty-six streams are rushing toward 


Desire and pleasure and lust... 

Play in your imagination with them 

And they will sweep you away. 

Powerful streams! 

They flow everywhere. 

Strong vine! 

If you see it spring up, 

Take care! 

Pull it out by the roots. 

Pleasures flow everywhere. 

You float upon them 

And are carried from life to life. 

Like a hunted hare you run, 

The pursuer of desire pursued, 

Harried from life to life. 

O seeker! 

Give up desire, 

Shake off your chains. 

You have come out of the hollow 

Into the clearing. 

The clearing is empty. 

Why do you rush back into the hollow? 

Desire is a hollow 

And people say "Look! 

He was free. 

But now he gives up his freedom." 

It is not iron that imprisons you 

Nor rope nor wood, 

But the pleasure you take in gold and 


In sons and wives. 
Soft fetters, 

Yet they hold you down. 
Can you snap them? 
There are those who can, 
Who surrender to the world, 
Forsake desire, and follow the way. 

0 slave of desire, 
Float upon the stream. 

Little spider, stick to your web. 

Or else abandon your sorrows for the 


Abandon yesterday, and tomorrow, 
And today. 

Cross over to the father shore, 

Beyond life and death. 

Do your thoughts trouble you? 

Does passion disturb you? 

Beware of this thirstiness 

Lest your wishes become desires 

And desire binds you. 

Quieten your mind. 



Nothing binds you. 

You are free. 

You are strong. 

You have come to the end. 

Free from passion and desire, 

You have stripped the thorns from the 


This is your last body. 

You are wise. 

You are free from desire 

And you understand words 

And the stitching together of words. 

And you want nothing. 

"Victory is mine, 

Knowledge is mine, 

And all purity, 

All surrender. 

"I want nothing. 

1 am free. 

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Page 16 

I found my way. 

What shall I call Teacher? 

The gift of truth is beyond giving. 

The taste beyond sweetness, 

The joy beyond joy. 

The end of desire is the end of sorrow. 

The fool is his own enemy. 

Seeking wealth, he destroys himself. 

Seek rather the other shore. 

Weeds choke the field. 

Passion poisons the nature of man, 

And hatred, illusion, and desire. 

Honour the man who is without 


Hatred, illusion, and desire. 

What you give to him 
Will be given back to you, 
And more. 

25. The Seeker 

Master your senses, 

What you taste and smell, 

What you see, what you hear. 

In all things be a master 

Of what you do and say and think. 

Be free. 

You are a seeker. 

Delight in the mastery 

Of your hands and your feet, 

Of your words and your thoughts. 

Delight in meditation 

And in solitude. 

Compose yourself, be happy. 

You are a seeker. 

Hold your tongue. 

Do not exalt yourself 

But lighten the way 

For your words are sweet. 

Follow the truth of the way. 

Reflect upon it. 

Make it your own. 

Live it. 

It will always sustain you. 

Do not turn away what is given you 

Not reach out for what is given to 


Lest you disturb your quietness. 
Give thanks 

For what had been given to you, 

However little. 

Be pure, never falter. 

You have no name and no form. 

Why miss what you do not have? 
The seeker is not sorry. 
Love and joyfully 
Follow the way, 

The quiet way to the happy country. 

Empty the boat, 

Lighten the load, 

Passion and desire and hatred. 

And sail swiftly. 

There are five at the door 

To turn away, and five more, 

And there are five to welcome in. 

And when five§ have been left 

Stranded on the shore, 

The seeker is called oghatinnoti - 

"He who has crossed over." 


Do not be restless. 

Meditate constantly. 

Or you will swallow fire 

And cry out: "No more!" 

If you are not wise, 

How can you steady the mind? 

If you cannot quieten yourself, 

What will you ever learn? 

How will you become free? 

With a quiet mind 

Come into that empty house, your 


And feel the joy of the way 

Beyond the world. 

Look within - 

The rising and the falling. 

What happiness! 

How sweet to be free! 

It is the beginning of life, 

Of mastery and patience, 

Of good friends along the way, 

Of a pure and active life. 

So life in love. 

Do your work. 

Make an end of sorrow. 

For see how the jasmine 

Releases and lets fall 

Its withered flowers. 

Let fall wilfulness and hatred. 

Are you quiet? 

Quieten your body. 

Quieten your mind. 

You want nothing. 

Your words are still. 

You are still. 

By your own efforts 

The Dhammapada, www.thebigview. com 


Waken yourself, watch yourself. 

And live joyfully. 

You are the master, 

You are the refuge. 

As a merchant breaks in a fine horse, 

Master yourself. 

How gladly you follow 

The words of the awakened. 

How quietly, how surely 

You approach the happy country, 

The heart of stillness. 

However young, 

The seeker who sets out upon the way 
Shines bright over the world. 
Like the moon, 

Come out from behind the clouds! 

26. The True Master 

Wanting nothing 

With all your heart 

Stop the stream. 

When the world dissolves 

Everything becomes clear. 

Go beyond 

This way or that way, 

To the farther shore 

Where the world dissolves 

And everything becomes clear. 

Beyond this shore 

And the father shore, 

Beyond the beyond, 

Where there is no beginning, 

No end. 

Without fear, go. 
Live purely. 
Be quiet. 

Do your work, with mastery. 

By day the sun shines, 

And the warrior in his armour shines. 

By night the moon shines, 

And the master shines in meditation. 

But this day and night 

The man who is awake 

Shines in the radiance of the spirit. 

A master gives up mischief. 

He is serene. 

He leaves everything behind him 
He does not take offence 
And he does not give it. 
He never returns evil for evil. 
Alas for the man 

Who raises his hand against another, 

And even more for him 

Who returns the blow. 

Resist the pleasures of life 

And the desire to hurt - 

Till sorrows vanish. 

Never offend 

By what you think or say or do. 
Honour the man who is awake 
And shows you the way. 
Honour the fire of his sacrifice. 
Matted hair or family or caste 
Do not make a master 
But the truth and goodness 
With which he is blessed. 
Your hair is tangled 
And you sit on a deerskin. 
What folly! 

When inside you are ragged with lust. 

The master's clothes are in tatters. 

His veins stand out, 

He is wasting away. 

Alone in the forest 

He sits and meditates. 

A man is not born to mastery. 

A master is never proud. 

He does not talk down to others. 

Owning nothing, he misses nothing. 

He is not afraid. 

He does not tremble. 

Nothing binds him. 

He is infinitely free. 

So cut through 

The strap and the thong and the rope. 

Loosen the fastenings. 

Unbolt the doors of sleep 

And awake. 

The master endures 

Insults and ill treatment 

Without reacting. 

For his spirit is an army. 

He is never angry. 

He keeps his promises. 

He never strays, he is determined. 

This body is my last, he says! 

Like water on the leaf of a lotus flower 

Or a mustard seed on the point of a 


He does not cling. 

For he has reached the end of sorrow 
And has laid down his burden. 
He looks deeply into things 
And sees their nature. 
He discriminates 

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Page 18 

And reaches the end of the way. 

He does not linger 

With those who have a home 

Nor with those who stray. 

Wanting nothing, 

He travels on alone. 

He hurts nothing. 

He never kills. 

He moves with love among the 

With peace and detachment 
Among the hungry and querulous. 
Like a mustard seed from the point of 
a needle 

Hatred has fallen from him, 
And lust, hypocrisy and pride. 
He offends no one. 
Yet he speaks the truth. 
His words are clear 
But never harsh. 
Whatever is not his 
He refuses, 

Good or bad, great or small. 
He wants nothing from this world 
And nothing from the next. 
He is free. 

Desiring nothing, doubting nothing, 

Beyond judgement and sorrow 

And the pleasures of the senses, 

He had moved beyond time. 

He is pure and free. 

How clear he is. 

He is the moon. 

He is serene. 

He shines. 

For he has travelled 

Life after life 

The muddy and treacherous road of 

He does not tremble 
Or grasp or hesitate. 
He has found peace. 

He lets go of life, 

Or home and pleasure and desire. 
Nothing of men can hold him. 
Nothing of the gods can hold him. 
Nothing in all creation can hold him. 
Desire has left him, 
Never to return. 
Sorrow has left him, 
Never to return. 
He is calm. 

In him the seed of renewing life 

Had been consumed. 

He has conquered all the inner worlds. 

With dispassionate eye 

He sees everywhere 

The falling and the uprising. 

And with great gladness 

He knows that he has finished. 

He has woken from his sleep. 

And the way he has taken 

Is hidden from men, 

Even from spirits and gods, 

By virtue of his purity. 

In him there in no yesterday, 
No tomorrow, 
No today. 

Possessing nothing, 

Wanting nothing. 

He is full of power. 

Fearless, wise, exalted. 

He has vanquished all things. 

He sees by virtue of his purity. 

He has come to the end of the way, 

Over the river of his many lives, 

His many deaths. 

Beyond the sorrow of hell, 

Beyond the great joy of heaven, 

By virtue of his purity. 

He has come to the end of the way. 

All that he had to do, he has done. 

And now he is one. 

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